While the cold wave has become a matter of fascination and has fuelled tourism in the area, the tea plantation sector is facing losses due to the continuous frost.

In a first Keralas Munnar covered in frost for 12th day in a row
news Cimate Saturday, January 12, 2019 - 14:06

Munnar in Kerala, which has been experiencing unforeseen dips to subzero temperatures, continues to experience the cold wave. And for the first time, a layer of frost has covered its landscapes for the 12th day in a row. On Friday morning, Chenduvara near Munnar recorded temperature of minus 4 degrees, which it had recorded on Monday as well. Such a dip was earlier seen in Sevenmallay on 2009, say officials at Kannan Devan Hills Plantation in Munnar, when the mercury hit minus four degrees on the first day of January.

In other parts too, the weather has been steadily cold. "On Friday zero degrees Celsius was recorded in Munnar town, Old Munnar, Kannimala, Nallathanni and Mattuppetty areas," said an official from United Planters Association of South India (UPASI), the apex body of planters of tea, coffee, rubber, cardamom and pepper in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka since 1893.

While the cold wave has become a matter of awe and fascination that has fuelled tourism in the area, the tea plantation sector is facing heavy losses due the continuous frost. "This is the first time in several years that we are experiencing continuous cold and frost. Because of this, tea leaves have wilted in 870 hectares of our land. That’s around 2.90 lakh kilos of damage, and a decrease of 6.80 lakh kilos in our production," a KDHP official told TNM.

This could put the plantation workers in a tricky situation. "Once the tea leaves wilt, the crop will yield losses for the next three months. After the frost recedes, we have to prune the affected plants, let it grow and then get yield," the KDHP official added.

Another plantation called Harrisons Malayalam Limited (HML) has lost 60 hectares worth of tea produce due to wilting. "We lost 60 hectares of crop in the Lockhart estate near Munnar, that amounts to a reduction in produce by around 30,000 kg," said an official of the company.

However, tourism in Munnar is booming, and getting back on track. On Tuesday and Wednesday, there was a heavy tourist rush was in areas like Mattuppetty, Chenduvara, Chittuvara, Silent Valley, Periyavara, Kannimala and Munnar town which were blanketed by frost. In Munnar itself, footfall of 8,000 to 10,000 tourists is being recorded per day, Munnar Hotel and Restaurant Association President VV George told TNM.

George added that due to the heavy rush, most of the hotels are running at full occupancy. "Earlier, we suspected that the nationwide strike might affect the tourist inflow in Munnar. But the cold wave seems to have ensured that did not happen." And it appears that it’s mostly Indians and Malayalees who are flocking to witness the snow and frost, said Anish P Varghese, who runs Red Sparrows Resort in Munnar.

Ernakulam native Vinod, who visits Munnar every year during this time to enjoy the cold weather, says that this is the first time he is witnessing something like this. "We had never witnessed the frost blanketed hills in Munnar. This is first time we are seeing the frost. We are really enjoying it," he said.  

Also read: Why is Kerala and rest of south so cold these days?

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